Outdoors

Grand Strand Fishing Report: Bull red drum, seatrout among the active species this fall

Angler Sybrant Baccas caught two king mackerel last Saturday from the Apache Pier in Myrtle Beach. Here, Baccas shows off the 31.1-pound king he caught, and later in the day he landed a 13.15-pounder, which marked the 78th king caught from the pier this year.
Angler Sybrant Baccas caught two king mackerel last Saturday from the Apache Pier in Myrtle Beach. Here, Baccas shows off the 31.1-pound king he caught, and later in the day he landed a 13.15-pounder, which marked the 78th king caught from the pier this year. Photo courtesy of Apache Pier

Estuary

Look For: Spotted seatrout, black drum, red drum, flounder, sheepshead, Spanish mackerel, bluefish.

Comments: Following a nice push of cooler temperatures over the last two weeks, fine fall fishing is in full swing, at least in the Little River area. “Some of the best fishing is now until Thanksgiving,” said Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in Little River. Kelly has been producing all four main estuary species this week including red drum, spotted seatrout, black drum and flounder. “We’ve been catching nice slot reds (15-23 inches), smaller reds and over-slot reds,” said Kelly. “They’ve been abundant, especially the 14- to 17-inch ones.” Kelly has predominantly been fishing the Intracoastal Waterway in Little River using an adjustable float rig or a popping cork. He has also been targeting reds in shallow-water creeks. Kelly has used live shrimp for trout and black drum and cut mullet for the reds. Gulp shrimp have also been producing trout. Kelly noted the water temperature has ranged from 67 in the morning to 71 later in the day. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service has been targeting spotted seatrout in the Winyah Bay vicinity and produced 10 by noon on a Thursday charter trip using a variety of plastic grubs. McDonald noted a water temperature of 66 degrees at midday on the trip. “It’s always a couple degrees cooler in Winyah Bay,” said McDonald.

Inshore

Look For: King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, red drum, flounder, whiting, pompano, black sea bass, weakfish, black drum, spots.

Comments: King mackerel action was excellent near the beach before the remnants of Tropical Storm Nestor blew through last weekend, but the stiff winds from the storm in essence shut the king fishing down. Right before Nestor arrived, angler Sybrant Baccas had a big time from the Apache Pier last Saturday. Baccas started the day by landing a 31.10-pound king from the pier and followed it up with a 13.15-pounder later in the day. Two kings in one day from a Grand Strand pier - quite an accomplishment for Baccas. The second king caught by Baccas marked the 78th landed from the Apache Pier this year. Since the storm, neither the Apache Pier nor Cherry Grove Pier have reported any king mackerel caught, but plenty of other species have come over the rails. Catches of pompano in particular have picked up, plus whiting, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, flounder, sheepshead and only a few spots. The ocean water temperature was the same at Apache Pier, Cherry Grove Pier and 2nd Ave. Pier at 2:15 p.m. Thursday, all at 72 degrees on the surface and bottom. The fall run of bull red drum is in full swing along the beach, at area jetties and at near-shore hard-bottom areas. Anglers are urged to catch these fish quickly with beefed up tackle and release them carefully, being sure they are revived before letting them go. Remember these red drum are members of the spawning stock, measuring well above the 15-23 inch slot limit, and represent the future of the red drum population in the Carolinas. Capt. Danny Carey of Careyon Charters had designs on an offshore trolling trip but settled for some near-shore action thanks to windy weather on Thursday. Carey worked the hard-bottom areas off Garden City and Surfside and produced four bull red drum on cut bait and quickly caught a five-person limit of weakfish (12-inch minimum size, one per person per day). Carey’s customers also hooked up with and released several sharks. “The water’s dirty,” said Carey.

Offshore

Look For: Wahoo, dolphin, blackfin tuna, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, porgy, amberjack, red snapper.

Comments: It’s been a rough last 7-8 days in the offshore waters, with few boats able to get out to the break. October is traditionally a good month for wahoo with blackfin tuna also in the mix, and before the storm, wahoo trolling was producing mixed results. Bottom fishing is typically excellent in autumn, when boats can get out there. The seas are forecast to be sloppy but fishable the next several days, with bottom fishing expected to produce vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, porgy, amberjack, grouper and red snapper, especially in depths of 90-120 feet. Red snapper are commonly found on the live bottom areas and ledges, but must be released in the South Atlantic Region.

Freshwater

Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.

Comments: Yes, there has been a cool down in air temperature and a drop in water temperature on local rivers but not much has changed yet in fish habits so far this autumn. Bream remain active in 2-4 feet of water, hitting mainly crickets. Ronald Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway reports his dad, Ronald Stalvey Jr., and granddad, Ronald Stalvey, Sr., had an excellent catch of bream earlier this week using crickets on a bream-buster in only 2-3 feet of water on the Pee Dee River. “All their fish were really healthy, big and thick,” said Stalvey. It’s been a good week for bass on the rivers, Stalvey reports. “The highest numbers (of bass) have been (caught) on Zoom trick worm in the Ricefields,” said Stalvey. “On the LIttle Pee Dee and big Pee Dee, they’ve been catching them on Texas-rigged worms. Even though the water temperature has changed a touch, the top-water bite is still on fire. [Use] Bang-O-Lures and buzz baits especially in shallow water and creeks.” Cooler weather means excellent crappie action. “The crappie are getting better and better by the day,” said Stalvey. Crappie are hitting shiners in 2-4 feet of water around structure. Catfish will take a variety of baits including live bream and shiners, cut eel and cut mullet.

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